PITTSBURGH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AIR RESERVE STATION, Pa. --
The 911th Airlift Wing is undergoing an aircraft conversion switching from the C-130 Hercules to a much larger cargo aircraft in the C-17 Globemaster III.
As of the first week of April, three out of the eight C-17s assigned to the 911th AW will be stationed at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station. The rest of the aircraft are to arrive over the next few months.
“The conversion from the C-130 to C-17 aircraft and operations is a complex, base-wide effort,” said Bryan Branby, 911th AW, C-17 Program Integration Office chief. “Not only does it involve a change in infrastructure, but it is also a cultural change that touches almost every process and function on the base.”
The completion of more flightline parking spaces and the building of a much larger hangar due to the size difference between the C-130 and the C-17 are just some of the infrastructure changes.
As of right now, the Pittsburgh IAP ARS only has enough parking spots for three C-17s. The completion of the flightline will include an in-ground fueling system and the finishing of pavement work, which is scheduled to be completed later this year, this will allow the rest of the aircraft to be on station.
According to Branby, other changes include increased training and qualifications for members of the 911th Maintenance Group as well as training for the 911th Operations Group’s pilots and loadmasters.
Airmen from the 911th AW have not been at their home-station. Instead they have been at bases such as Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and March Air Reserve Base, California, to obtain their increased training and wait for the C-17 aircraft to finally be stationed at the Pittsburgh IAP ARS.
“The aircraft being stationed at Pittsburgh impacts both the mission of the 911th AW and the quality of life for our Airmen,” said Col. Douglas N. Strawbridge, 911th AW commander. “They will be able to spend more time with their families and be able to get back to their regular lives.”
The Airmen coming back home to their civilian lives is just one of the many benefits to having the C-17s back at home-station.
“The most profound change is that the 911th AW now has a continuous impact on Air Force operations around the globe,” Branby said. “We no longer train and wait to be called upon. The Pittsburgh tail flash is now out in the world on a daily basis moving people and equipment to where it is needed most, and constantly ready for more.”